My friend Sam said something really poignant a few days ago:
‘Wondering what New Year’s Resolutions would look like if we made them in a collective way. What do we want for our people, our neighbourhoods, our relationships, families and communities? What if we committed to making resolutions not only for ourselves, but also with the people we love?’
I love this idea, and I agree wholeheartedly. Whilst there are changes I want to see in 2017 that help my life grow in a positive way, what I want most is to be making changes that have bigger impacts than just me, and I have a feeling some of you do too. So firstly, I wanted to highlight this ‘Choose Love’ jumper that one of my best friends got me for Christmas (thank you Hazel!)
This isn’t just a nice thought on a jumper, it’s actually sold by Help Refugees, the largest distributors of aid of any grassroots organisation across Europe, funding projects in 22 refugee camps in Greece, Paris, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon. Their ‘Choose Love’ winter appeal has a particular focus on preparing Greece’s 60,000 refugees for a gruelling winter. We are currently living in the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War, The UN estimates that 65.3 million people are now refugees, seeking asylum, or internally displaced. Help Refugees work where governmental and other non-governmental bodies cannot, and they are currently the primary aid-provider in Calais. This ‘Choose Love’ jumper is made from 100% Organic Cotton in an ethically accredited wind-powered factory, whilst also being low carbon and GM free, and directly funds Help Refugees with money made from sales. Here’s some more of what they do:
‘We identify the most effective grassroots groups active in the crisis and provide them with funding, enabling them to focus their time and energy on the vital work they do every day rather than on raising funds. Help Refugees are also operational establishing quality services and teams to maintain and uphold dignity.
We strive to ensure that everyone has access to the basic necessities such as food, water and shelter. We also prioritise the provision of sufficient adapted services for the most vulnerable people affected by the the crisis, funding safe spaces for women, sexual health clinics, nurseries, schools and youth centres.
We report the reality of crisis firsthand and present it honestly, a unique trusted voice in the public arena. Our advocacy focuses on both the big picture and the cases of the individual refugees who urgently need help.’
For me, doing all we can to help refugees, provide aid and fight racism is extremely important. I believe it’s basic humanity, but for me it’s also a personal responsibility, as I’m from an immigrant background myself. Not just that but an illegal, Muslim immigrant straight from the Middle East. My great grandfather was from the Yemen, at around age 13 he fled bad circumstances by stowing away in a boat out of Saudi Arabia (so yeah, full on illegal). He settled in the North East of England, worked hard to contribute to his community, married a local girl and had my nana who had my mum who had me, and it’s pretty clear that with every generation since he came here the quality of life has dramatically improved, and my family have been fairly low key, hardworking people. We’re seen as normal British people (whatever that means), but immigration is our heritage. I am aware of the white, middle class privilege I live with today, and even more aware that only a few generations back my own family did not have this, and it is my responsibility to use whatever power I have to attempt to dismantle xenophobia, racism and poor treatment of refugees 100 years on. This story is a friendly reminder that immigration and refugee situations don’t always look a certain way and follow a certain narrative, no matter what people may try and say. I believe our consumer choices are always a vote for the world we want to be a part of, and I’m glad this gift was the choice my friend made. You can learn more about Help Refugees and the Choose Love campaign here.
I also want to share another thought from my friend Sam if you are wondering what to do with some of that Christmas money and are interested in dismantling racist structures of power through education and empowerment in the USA, in the interest of making resolutions that go beyond just ourselves.
‘For the past couple of years I’ve been volunteering with a group in New Orleans called the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond which runs Undoing Racism workshops around the country. They give people a framework for how to discuss and ultimately address racial disparities, and they work with people in education, healthcare, social services, housing, and more.
I really believe in their work and it would mean a lot to me if you’d make a small donation to their year-end campaign!
I will be donating, I hope you will too. Here’s to a 2017 that sees us moving towards a better world.
Until next time, stay magic y’all.